Xintiandi, Shanghai, China, Asia

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Top choice in French Concession

With its own namesake metro station, Xintiandi has been a Shanghai icon for over a decade. An upmarket entertainment and shopping complex modelled on traditional alleyway (lòngtáng) homes, this was the first development in the city to prove that historical architecture makes big commercial sense. Elsewhere that might sound like a no-brainer, but in 21st-century China, where bulldozers are always on standby, it came as quite a revelation.

Well-heeled shoppers and alfresco diners keep things lively until late, and if you’re looking for a memorable meal or to browse through some of Shanghai’s more fashionable boutiques, you’re in the right spot. The heart of the complex, divided into a pedestrianised north and south block, consists of largely rebuilt traditional shíkùmén houses, brought bang up to date with a stylish modern spin. But while the layout suggests a flavour of yesteryear, you should not expect much in the cultural realm. Xintiandi doesn’t deliver any of the lived-in charms of Tianzifang or the creaking, rickety simplicity of Shanghai Old City. Beyond two worthwhile sights – the Shikumen Open House Museum and the Site of the 1st National Congress of the CCP – it’s best for strolling the prettified alleyways and enjoying a summer evening over drinks or a meal.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby French Concession attractions

1. Shikumen Open House Museum

0.08 MILES

This two-floor exhibition invites you into a typical shíkùmén (stone-gate house) household, decked out with period furniture. The ground-floor arrangement…

3. Fuxing Park


This leafy spot with a large lawn, laid out by the French in 1909 and used by the Japanese as a parade ground in the late 1930s, remains one of the city’s…

4. Fazangjiang Temple

0.47 MILES

This simple but very active temple is curiously accessed from the west, rather than the south, where the entrance to Buddhist temples usually lies. The…

5. Shanghai Museum


This must-see museum escorts you through the craft of millennia and the pages of Chinese history. It's home to one of the most impressive collections in…

6. Sun Yatsen’s Former Residence

0.54 MILES

Sun Zhongshan predictably receives the full-on hagiographic treatment at this shrine to China’s guófù (国父, father of the nation). A capacious exhibition…

7. St Nicholas Church

0.57 MILES

A short walk west along Gaolan Rd from Fuxing Park is rewarded by the distinctive shape of the vacant and now derelict St Nicholas Church, one of Shanghai…

8. Great World

0.58 MILES

At the corner of East Yan’an Rd and Middle Xizang Rd stands the building of the former Great World, a place for acrobats and nightlife stars that was…